Skype Aug 18, 2014: PL, Systemic Change & Generative Dynamics
A few notes by Helene on a conversation between Bonnitta Roy, Tim Winton & Daryl Taylor, Helene Finidori.

Skype conversation on Pattern Language, Systemic Change, and Generative Dynamics. August 18, 2014. Bonnitta Roy (Collective Participatory Process for Emerging Insights), Tim Winton & Daryl Taylor (Pattern Dynamics), Helene Finidori.

Here are a few notes by Helene reorganized thematically. Expecting to add the notes by the other participants (or please add them in text here) and the recording of the conversation by Tim.

We talked about what we had in mind with pattern language and how our various lines of work could complement each other and bring to this project.

The goal of the PL

The goal we share is to use patterns and a pattern language to understand conditions/situations and initiate generative change > This + that + that produces this or that kind of generative change… That's where JG Bennett's work for example can come into the picture. It would be interesting for this group to talk with Jenny Quillien and David Seamon.

We need a PL to understand the conditions that lead to something better, and end up with something better than the starting condition that engenders and sustains the health of systems. This is also what Pattern Dynamics (Tim & Daryl) are aiming to. Embed the concept of anti-fragile… Beyond resilience. This includes the factors of opportunity and perpetual renewal of the system.

Focus on generative process & dynamics

Uncover the fundamental operators in generative change.  Untangle the different kinds of forces, drivers that affect the system (natural forces, human nature, willpower, self sustained dynamics -feedback and feedforward loops) to assess and act upon existing margin of maneuver. Reintroduce the human element… What communities of practice can discern and act upon…. to enable the generative system to operate… We need to depart from homeostasis thinking into generative thinking (Bonnie, please re-summarize what you said).

We are just beginning to identify the signifiers of systems dynamics, of what's going on. Are the signifiers cascading? Are they constellations? Patterns as signifiers? Create an ontology of signifiers and possibilities?

It is easier to describe a problem situation than a generative dynamic. Degenerative elements gain momentum quickly, whereas generative ones need to be nurtured. How can we design systems where we don't recreate more of the same? For example, the new economy (Uber, AirBnb, Bitcoin) continue to feed the Big Box (?) Economy.

When/how do things pick up momentum? Energy is running downhill. We can't contain it and have it move back uphill. We need to take the energy and put it where we want it to go. You don't hold up the sea. You build a troph (?) so it goes somewhere else.

The flow needs to flow downhill into other areas… with inflows exceeding outflows (or I would say rather with flows flowing and irrigating all areas it needs to irrigate without being captured -otherwise we create more of the same?) This is typically a pattern!) to ensure an autopoietic growth of the system we want.

This is the basic 5 element theory… Ancient wisdom for new work with epistemic tools. Channeling existing forces into new directions. Using & domesticating momentum, not working against it. But also knowing how to question when optima are reached and when the channeled momentum turns into something toxic.

Diversity of approach

People show up with an angle of approach, with mental models of how things work in their heads, they think structure differently, just as values. They are sensitive to primary conditions instead of creating new ones. Different people in different groups can see different systems. And they think of different things when using the same words. Or as laid out in Bonnitta Roy's G5 paper, people have different process narratives to explain similar dynamics.

Structures are in us… People are prisoners in the structures they project.  So we need to work with what we have. Structure is a transitionary scaffold that is a means for certain effects and outcomes derived by the paradigm held… This appears quite clearly in Donnella Meadows leverage points for systemic change.

We must use and move the implicit, 'endothermic' (re Bonnie) structures to pull off the process we want to see happen…. Work on 'mechanism independent' patterns (See Joe Corneli's WOW paper), but yet on adjacent possibilities.

Patterns must be used in any context. They are not good or bad. They can be balanced/adjusted to be more or less generative, and their effects monitored. An agyle construct.

This is not a developmental endeavor. It is a tool for collaborative decision making, to apply holistic intelligence collectively. Gaining literacy on how to organize ourselves and the effects this may have, from whichever 'place' one is situated.

Collective Participatory Process for Emerging Insights 

Bonnie is working on Collective Participatory Process for Emerging Insights.  Building a pattern language for post needs based interactions vs [cognitive or affective] needs based interaction, i.e. ensuring the social self needs are left behind, in order to come up with things that are value neutral… to participate without our own individual projections… without 'strategizing' to push forward our own preferred values and structure.  If we develop an a-perspectival systems thinking capacity that validates multiple experience, the process will move us to something that we never thought was possible. This is working beyond collective intelligence, pushing toward the collectively held [archetypal] paradigm.

We need to enable multiple systemic perspectives. We need to uncover underlying drivers, root drivers independent from value system, context and structure. We need tools that don't have shadows behind them… We need toolkits that don't have biases, in order to ensure consistency, provide references pointing at the same realities. And we need to safeguards these tools.

We throw out toolkits that have been useful in objective science. No rules or principles, no angle of approach. We talk to multivalue stakeholders, help recognize the differences, realize what each is bringing to the space. Every perspective gets recognized and honored. This is the system that has entered the room. A new participatory process.

Pattern Dynamics

Pattern Dynamics has built a methodology and learning praxis around its set of patterns, with an educational more than a 'general' systemic outcome seeking goal. Has certified consultants (to be confirmed) and works with a certain number of communities of practice. Helping people learn and make collaborative decisions to achieve their own outcomes. Purpose driven collaborative systems thinking applied to outcomes. Three dimensionally. Immersive learning. Seeks to extend to a set of universal patterns and scale the application.

Groups of people will talk around a feeling of for example a tension or a dynamic. And look at what it is made of. For example, part feedback, part growth and part boundary. Will uncover ecosystem, or dynamics in the discussion, and adjust patterns (combined into a grammar) to be generative.

Pattern Dynamics has basic patterns of processes and dynamics that can be part of initial patterns for this project, complemented by the experience and expertise of this group.

An idea for a start would be to use Pattern Dynamics patterns to unpack/unravel known effects and paradoxes (or momentums), such as the Jevons paradox or the Matthiew effect and build generative sequences that produce the virtuous effects.

Notes (and conversation!) to be continued...

Comments welcome!

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Skype Aug 18, 2014: PL, Systemic Change & Generative Dynamics
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